There are a number of hazards on the trail at any given time. Some are small, like loose rocks, things to trip over, slippery sections. Some are larger, like branches, larger rocks, etc. Today has been snow, fallen trees, rivers, and large creeks. Let me describe this in more detail. It’s not just a dead tree, stripped of branches, laying by its lonesome on the forest floor. No. This is an enormous tree, still green, branches everywhere, and it decided to take down several other trees in the process of falling. The kind of mess that obscures the trail so bad, you have to spend several minutes maneuvering around it to try to find the trail again. At one point today, this occurred every 50 feet or so. When there weren’t trees, there was snow. Several feet deep and and melting enough to fall through.
What’s fun about the snow is that it makes the trail completely disappear, making you compulsively check your phone, search frantically for footprints, walk in blind faith, or follow the deer tracks because they seem to know where they’re going. The majority of the time, the deer is correct.
Now, put the snow and the fallen trees together and the real adventure begins. Luckily, nature mixes it up by adding a water crossing. The small ones or still ones are no problem since my brother bought me some awesome, waterproof shoes, but the issue is the raging ones that will knock you off your feet. Sometimes you have to walk a quarter of a mile up the river, clawing your way along a muddy mountain side, in order to find a slippery-looking log that might pass as a bridge. Then hope that you’re steady enough to cross without falling. All this makes for a very interesting, very tiring workout that no amount of stair-stepping can train you for.
Welcome to Lassen. I think it has been a tough winter for this forest and no one (besides thru-hikers) is dumb enough to go into the forest to clean it up. It has been another challenging week. The heat and humidity coupled with walking over piles of snow. What a strange year. Northern California has left an impression on me…mostly in the form of mosquito bites.
Lassen is amazing. I walked down a side trail to “Terminal Geyser,” which boiled the cold water coming into it and everything running out of it was soup-cooking water. I also saw a boiling lake.
I saw several deer and a fawn, which I was really excited about because I have never seen one in nature. The whole day felt like vacation. To top off vacation mode, I stopped at Drakesbad Guest Ranch for lunch and chatted with a hiker I camped with the night before.
A couple other hikers showed up and we all hung out. The funny thing about this place is that they are hiker-friendly, but they make it perfectly clear that the other guests come first.
I understand this. The other guests pay a lot of money to stay there. We get everything half price. I imagine if the other guests knew this, they would be upset. So the place keeps us separate from the guests. I felt like the hired help and it made me laugh the whole time. We couldn’t eat until the guests were done, we couldn’t shower in same showers the guests use, and we could use the pool only when the guests were at dinner. It was hilarious.
One guy got pretty upset about it, but that’s just the way it is. If we paid full price, we’d get full price treatment. Honestly, I was happy as a clam in my podunk, outdoor shower. I was really excited to have the pool all to myself which was neat because it was heated by geothermal energy beneath the ground (something something…my brother would know). The pool was kept at a comfortable temperature by the ice-cold stream water flowing into it (which is why the water is a bit brown). I came back to the table in such a good mood, they started calling me “Pool Maiden.” Trail name? I haven’t decided yet.
I guess my experience there goes back to the issue of perspective. If you choose to be upset about the way things are done, of course you’ll have a bad time. But if you take it as it comes and enjoy the moment, you’ll me much better off. I slept amazing that night. Which is great, because the next day was the difficult day of obstacles.
I am now at a strange little store with camping out back. It wasn’t good enough for other people, but the grass is maintained, there’s privacy fences, running water, and a flush toilet. What else do you need? Michelle, the woman who helped me out after hours was also really sweet and showed me around. I’m happily sitting on a bench by the road, using their internet and outlets.
I’m not sure what the trail will bring next, I’m hoping this is the end of my skipping around. I hope the snow is over, but I also hope the heat isn’t atrocious. For now, I am content treating this like a vacation. Tomorrow, I will go through a lava cave!